Thursday, July 24, 2014

Exclusive Character Interview with Parker Bennett from the Dream Keeper Series!



So I asked my 14 year old son, Levi--who absolutely LOVES all the adventures you star in and is a proud fan (who debuted in Book Two, and will make a major appearance in Book Three--wheeeee!), to whip up a set of interview questions for you in which he was thrilled to! He's a devoted stalker of your mastermind, Mikey Brooks!

Welcome Parker Bennett from the Dream Keeper Series! ! 


Levi: What did you think when you discovered your dreams were taking place in another dimension?

Parker: At first I didn’t know what to believe. Magic and stuff is cool when it’s in video games but something else when it’s really happening. Now that I get it and know what’s going on—it’s amazing! I mean I get to see Dreams how it really is, not to mention all the awesome dreamlings I’ve met like Gladamyr, Cerulean, Captain Bootie and Felix. Sure there are some total creepers too, like Mab, Minion, and Fyren, but Dreams is still pretty sweet. Did I mention I have superpowers there too? Yeah. That alone makes visiting Dreams worth it. 


Levi: What made you sure that Gladamyr would stay good after going into the Draig three times? 

Parker: If you ever get a chance to meet the guy he is nothing like the other nightmares. Gladamyr can be scary looking sometimes. In fact he looked pretty gnarly when he came out of the Draig the last time. But I knew he’d be okay because I knew he loved me and Kaelyn. I don’t want to sound all mushy and stuff, but Gladamyr is a pretty cool guy and I love him too. Maybe it’s the bond we share. Or maybe just the trust I have in him. I just knew he’d survive the Draig.

Levi: What did you think when Kaelyn let you hold her hand in front of the Plastics?

Parker: Gosh, man, I really don’t know. Half of me wanted to give Tiffany and her band of snobs a show. You know something to talk about. The other half of me wanted to hold Kaelyn’s hand because . . . well, I like holding it. Let move onto the next question before it become too awkward a conversation.


Levi: Do you think that if you had enough time you could have kept Mab's tower from collapsing?

Parker: I’d like to think so. My powers are growing the more I visit Dreams. I like to think that if Mab would have just gotten her proud butt of the throne we could have fixed everything. That dreamling drives me crazy. It was just so chaotic and I didn’t get the time to figure out what I did. Man, you should have seen my mom’s face. I could tell she was about to ground me . . . again.


Levi: What was your first thought when Jason said he and Mab were trying to save Dreams when Mab was using him to destroy it?

Parker: To be honest, I’m still kind of angry. You’d think Jason would have been a little smarter than that. Hello?! Mab is like the most evil dreamling I have met. I sometimes think she’s worse than Fyren. Both her and Jason make me so made I want to start throwing stones at them. To be honest, it also makes me kind of sad. Jason has been my best friend since kindergarten. I can’t believe he would do something like this to hurt me. Just because I became friends with Kaelyn.


Levi: Do you think Jason was jealous of you for having a cute girl as a closer friend than himself?

Parker: I think Jason’s problem is that he doesn’t like to come in second to anyone, let alone a cute girl like Kaelyn. (Don’t tell Kae I said she was cute. I’ll never hear the end of it.) When I think about it, Jason treats my other friends the same way. He’s always making fun of Connor and Levi, as if he could make me not like them. I think Dr. gates would say Jason is insecure. 

Dude, these have been awesome questions. And this is my first official interview. You’d think I’d have more after saving the world the first time. Just wait until you read what happens in the last book. Mares is not an easy guy to shut down. To be honest, I don’t know if we can defeat him. I hope we can. Kaelyn says, ‘in dark times, hope is all that will get you to the light.’ Man, I hope she’s right.
~Parker Ryan Bennett




Whoa, that was way fun, Mikey, thanks for letting Parker out to play with Levi--I know they will have more fun together in your upcoming book!


**scroll down for a chance to win The DreamKeeper and The DreamStone audio books!**




About Mikey Brooks:
Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of the best-selling middle-grade series The Dream Keeper Chronicles, The Stone of Valhalla, and The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (www.emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com




Author, Freelance Illustrator, and Cover Designer.
I am the author of the middle-grade fantasy adventures: The Stone of ValhallaThe Dream Keeper, and The Dreamstone.
My picture books include: ABC Adventures: Magical CreaturesBean's Dragon, and Trouble with Bernie.

To find more magic and to see my portfolio visit: insidemikeysworld.com



Enter for a chance to win Mikey Brooks' The DreamKeeper audio books!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder!

Or does it?

I have to apologize for missing out on blogging comments as of last week and up to I'm not sure when.
My editors have gotten back to me and I have been working nonstop on a few books with a 2 week deadline! I successfully finished editing Rock Star in 5 1/2 days with a word count of over 100k and sent it back to the editor! I was so proud of myself, I cried.

It's been one grueling week so far what with the kids fighting and picking up all the slack from me! Just one more week, babies!

I will get back to you guys as soon as I am done with my Baby's Breath, promise!

What projects have you been working on?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Not Using "Was"

Okay, really quick! Go to your WiP and do a search for the word WAS. How many do you come up with? Musketeer's Daughter, my YA historical novel, has 943 out 102,748 words. Thank goodness it's only a first draft!

All of my writerly life I have heard to not use was because it is a passive voice and passive voice makes for a passive read and readers like powerful stories that stick to their ribs. I cam across J. Timothy King's post on 7 ways to eradicate the copulative [word was]. After reading it, that was when I suddenly became obsessed with its abolition.

Here are some examples from another WiP that had me busting my brains to remove the offending word:

This was not home, nor was it anywhere near.
TO
It’s very strangeness declared he had entered a realm far-removed from home. ...


There was no doubt where the Princesses headed, a cobblestone lane led the way through the thick forest.
TO
A cobblestone lane led the way through the thick forest, leaving no doubt where the Princesses headed. ...

A minute ago, I happened across another post from Meljean, declaring the mistake writers do by advising newbie counterparts NOT to using was. WAS isn't as bad as we think. Okay, conflicting time! Click here to read her post.

Now my obsession to destroying WAS has slowed, but I am not sure anymore which is true. However, I did some more research and asked a friend I trust, my editor, on what he thinks about WAS. This is what *Clay Gilbert has to say about the infamous word:

"The main trick of avoiding the passive is to make sure you don't have a lot of sentence constructions where PEOPLE are having things done to them. You don't want your PEOPLE consistently being acted upon, but objects--well, that's what they're for."

Brilliant, Clay! It's so much clearer now.

What are your thoughts on WAS?


*Clay has a fabulous work of art in his Trilogy. Drop by and say hi!




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

#IWSG Feeling Like a Buffoon

What a wonderful way to share your support with fellow writers! Click on the badge above to START!

There's something dorky in the word Buffoon, wouldn't you agree? I think of a clown with balloony pants who can't hold things as it slips through his fingers.

While I don't wear balloony pants, things do slip through my fingers. Time doesn't like me right now and I'm overwhelmed with projects begging for attention as well as family. Ever since I had this wonderful baby, I've been forgetful! On top of that, when I have a bit of time--during babykins' nap times, I scramble about wondering what project needs my attention. I create a checklist and check off the squares.

Okay, babykins is asleep--get set, go!

So every project fights with each other, vying for my attention. Pick me, no, pick me! Soon, I succumb to the sinking feeling of ... Do I write a post about my writing process for an upcoming bloghop along with finding 3 friends who are willing to participate (a huge project for my little buffoon brain), or do I write the book that needs to be done by October, or edit a book I've been promising to for the past year?

Also, I am at a seeming impasse: though I have signed a few contracts with my publisher and have yet to hear from the editors, I wonder how I would carry on with my time scarcity and babykins once the books release; I let it slide and not worry. They'll get it to me when they get it to me. I'll worry when the time comes. Meanwhile, how do I market myself with only a single book over 2 years old? I feel so squashed as it is with my Buffoonness that I don't know where to start or when to end.


How do you handle all your projects, time, and self without the expense of insanity?

Monday, June 30, 2014

School Shooting, what would you do? a mock shooting training

I screamed, wrestled, and wailed and they arrested me

The school is on lock-down, there has been a shooting. I received the text from the school where my kids attend. With pounding heart in my mouth, trembling and legs like weakened noodles (I had a hard time running!), I pulled in behind the cop after seeing a father with a bat approach him. I searched my car for a formidable weapon, but came up empty.

After wedging my car behind the officer who blocked the road, I jumped out and dashed past him, but he caught me. The school seemed abandoned and eerily quiet--so quiet I could only think of one thing: To. Get. In!

I was the crazed parent, my time of arrival at 10:17, June 28th. My four kids were participants with given assignments at different parts of the school building. As we lined up for the authorities to give us our designated roles, I noticed the makeup artists dabbing kids with blood-red paint and black and dark brown--the color of wounds that killed.

My 17 year old (yo) needed to act out as a panicked student, and my 14 yo to hide quietly in a corner. I watched the group of kids follow the leaders into the school along with my two younger children for them to set the stage.

Excitement literally hung in the air and my wild mind recalled the many shootings I have broken over these past several years. It would not be difficult to act the assigned part of a crazed parent. It was so easy to act the exact role they wanted from me ...


Monday, June 23, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things #bloghop! #CTST

Welcome to VikLit and Celebrating the Small Things! I am loving the hoppers' posts so far, so full of breathtaking joy. It's refreshing! I have included the list below this post.
Enjoy. :D


Here's mine:

In a world full of fast paced craziness, I find that stopping once in a while is really important to catch my breath! As I write this, my mind is frantically combing what I have done! Yikes, I am bad. I know I love to listen to my 15 month old baby laugh and play. I love to hear my kids chattering, their sounds filling the air. I enjoy sitting on my porch as I stare off into the mountains.

One thing that I remember that I have been doing is going for walks. A few times I have actually stopped by the old elementary school where they have swings--yes, swings! Such a rarity these days--and swing facing the mountains. It's so stunningly green and I love to stare at the clouds changing color as the sun sets.

Another thing is writing! Oh, writing is my first love of simple things.

Writing this article has made me realize that I need to enjoy the simple things a bit more often. I am too busy. :(


What simple joys do you find yourself doing?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Method to My Madness in Writing--er, I mean, My Writing Process BLOG HOP!

Victoria Adams, for some crazy reason, has chosen me to share my writing process as part of her bloghop, isn't she awesome? She is a wonderful friend and  I love her writing process, you should drop by and say hi!

To be honest with you, I've been dreading to write about my writing process. I'm not a procrastinator, but I have squandered these past two weeks wondering how I would begin such a task. And now, here I am!

As with anything great, my writing starts with thought. I keep my imagination well-oiled and pay attention to details that are all around. If I'm going for a walk and happen by a burnt down building, I imagine dark creatures living there. A breathtaking sunset could inspire a high fantasy plot involving dragons or unicorns. A phrase from the scriptures or a book, even someone speaking could strike up wonders. (I never dismiss dreams, either!)

Once my brain gathers information--or I just refer to my book of ideas, I jot down a rough summary. Even a first chapter idea to get the juices flowing. More often than not, I am a pantser writer. My characters jump to life, or, I love the cliche, they hit the ground running! On rare occasions, I get stumped and suffer writers block. Oh, I hate writers block! Once that happens, I put my story aside and try to figure out what it is that is stumping me. Many times it's because I am not giving myself permission to accept an idea. It is a mental conflict that I must work though. Prayer is one of my biggest sources of my writing process and it helps me sort through all the bugs!

Sometimes my blocks derive from plot problems. I love bouncing ideas around with writing palz--even my teen-aged kids. They are ripe with ideas. Once I detangle myself from these things, I tackle my book with every whit of passion I possess. How my husband gets lost in his favorite television show, or my son in his epic book, so it is with me in my writing! Unfortunately, my time is so sparse, I must be ready to write when it spontaneously arrives! Yep, having a 14 month old babykins will easily do that to me. I once pushed myself very hard and wrote a 50K novel in two weeks! As you can tell, babykins was not around at that time.

I just love how the characters sprout choices of their own, how the story unfolds. I do my very best to keep from editing as I write. My mantra is: You have permission to have inconsistencies, misspellings, editing flaws, whatever, for the first draft. Okay, if something really bothers me, I will go back and fix it!Once I'm done writing, I go back and edit it -or- put it aside to let it fester as I move on to my next book. After some time has gone by--maybe a few weeks or months--I will get back to that book and edit.

The IMPORTANT thing about that is many times I lose the "feel" of that book and even what I need to edit, so I create an "editing notes" file with my thoughts as to what I think needs fixing.

For example, in my Musketeer's Daughter I have finished about a month ago, my notes say this:
>king or KING (proper grammar usage)
>His Majesty the King (again, proper name usage)
>make home consistent with *wealthy* Gabriel--remember he's not genteel poverty like I 1st started out
>character & costume consistency
>look up French words every time you see this: (f)

If I don't have notes like that to jog my memory, I'd have to reread my story straight through just to remember what exactly it was I needed to do! Yikes!

Once I have gone through it a few times, I hope (ha! More like pray) that I could find willing victims to beta read my stuff. << that part is the most challenging ever! Because we are naturally hermatoids living in our writerly caves, it's not easy, at least for me.

Viola! Welcome to my condensed version to my Method of Madness in Writing!


Is there stuff you do differently? What shortcuts help you? I'd love to hear your thoughts!



Welcome my next victims for the fantastical BLOGHOP! They will dare to share their Writing Process as well next week!



Heather McCubbin began writing stories on the back of scrap of paper at the age of 13, then filing them away, while also resisting peer pressure to avoid death defying stunts off her swing-set. Now that she is an adult and owns a laptop, there are many MS Word folders filled with stories. And she has retired  from jumping off swing-sets.

Her first story "Shadows of Promise," published 2011, was included in the anthology "Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal'. Currently, she has a YA Mystery?Romance story being reviewed for publishing and is working on a fantasy novel with a long-time friend all while beginning a new job of reviewing for "Books Make Me Happy Reviews".

In addition to writing, editing, reviewing and  reading, she enjoys traveling, board games, volunteering in school PTA and Marching Band all while fostering cats/kittens. A native Marylander, she supports Redskins, Capitals and Orioles. She now resides outside of Boston with her family, her dog and a 20-pound cat.





Megan Elizabeth Morales is a female who love Star Trek, is a Netflix Junkie and loves Comic-Con. She's a bit of a dreamer, isn't she? One day when she was eight years old, she just started writing, and she's never stopped since.









Willow Scot: As a young girl I wrote my first Novel, "The Snow Monster". Although it never was read by another living soul, I was hooked. Ever since I have written in just about every Genre. I am currently looking for representation for my picture book "Ooey, Gooey, Stinky, Muck!". My current project is a Historical Romance Novel, "My Enemy, My Love".

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

#IWSG Bigger Than Life ...

What a wonderful way to share your support with fellow writers! Click on the badge above to START!


We all know as authors we must make our characters bigger than life, otherwise, the story is bland. A person's real life would be considered boring if you shadowed him/her all the time. I noticed that I have been trying to make myself bigger than life as a public figure. You know, to create interest? Aren't authors supposed to be exciting, interesting, fun? Just like celebrities.

Ha.

Ever since I was first published a few years ago, I have always worked hard to keep up a certain image. To please. But it becomes burdensome, having to think of the world as a whole in perspective of an author. This applies to my blog, my facebook, twitter, everything social network. Even at writers conferences when I present.

This is a state of being, you know? You can't let your guard down as you walk down the aisle of the grocery store as you might have a few of your signed books in your satchel in the event you strike up a conversation with a to-be fan.

I am just who I am, I just want to be myself without having to sound like a self-proclaimed person who is constantly wearing down the public hawking their wares with over exaggerated enthusiasm. *Shiver*

What about you, what do you think an author should be? Am I over-thinking this?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Research A-ha Moments

Have you ever spent hours upon hours of research for a book you're writing? Maybe even begrudgingly? I just want to write! Why do I need to stop and research? Even for just a single sentence?

I spoke with a library friend of mine and she said how beautiful my book will be for it. I am careful not to write in gross detail in the work as it is background knowledge, but shines through the dialogue, mentioned casually in setting as well as description.

For Musketeer's Daughter, I have spent over 10 hours on research during King Henri IV of France's reign from his favorite castle of residence to fashion, food, and weather. Castles undergo lots of construction and rebuilding as well as tearing down and sometimes it's difficult to find out just how and what and when!

Here are some discoveries I have made:

Below is the famous horse shoe staircase of Chateau de Fontainebleau during Henri IV of France's reign. The drawing was done before 1610, while the photograph of the same castle happens to be of the staircase after his son, Louis XIII, had them reconstructed (how they are today).





Something that I learned during my studies is that King Henri (reigned 1553-1610) commissioned a floating garden in the castle's fishing lake. Can you see it below in the the illustration? There are only a few illustrations of this garden via bird's eye view like the one below. But somehow, it mysteriously vanished in a few years' later illustration (Jacques Androuet de Cerceau in 1570--not too long after).




So where did it go in such a few short years?

In the modern illustrations as well as photographs, the garden is not there. I was disappointed to see it missing and wondered what had happened to it. I spent several hours more trying to unearth a record on where it went. Well, I never found such information, but a closer look via satellite showed much to my shock!



Do you see it right there (below), beneath the Lake? Yes, it sank!




Still, after discovering where it went and how, I could not find anything about it. Surely the people were scared that something so solid and well-used had sunk right before their eyes? Maybe someone had it destroyed because it was too dangerous or was just spiteful, and thought it not worth recording? Who knows... There is more out there and wish I could find the records.

What sort of interesting facts have you found while researching?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Knowing What to Write in a Blogpost part 2

Last week I shared with you how daunting it has been for me. As I read the post title and viewed the number of impressive hits, I realized something...everyone is hungry for knowledge; you were hoping to find some helpful advice but maybe were disappointed when my post mentioned just how lost over it I was!

Another thing I realized is that I've been searching for "See a need, fill a need." What about, "See a want, fill a want"? Aren't wants just as powerful as needs? People are constantly seeking comfort and joy, right? Plus, if I follow my drive to obey what I want to post rather than what I need to post, it will reflect honesty and not feel forced.

Writing a blog post is very much like writing a book: always keep your eyes open for inspiration: One day I was driving down the street and saw a car with a right-seated driver. I have never seen a right-seated car before and it stuck with me. Another was when the wind blew so hard, it tossed my tent from my yard. We searched the neighborhood and couldn't find it. Guess what? It was in my backdoor neighbor's yard!

How do I weave this into a blog post? The thought regarding the right-seated driver brings to mind that being different takes courage and can impact others to the point that they realize it isn't so bad. For the tent, the answer is simpler than you'd believe if you just stopped and breathed...

Writing your post short and snappy (like the bikini method--small enough to keep it interesting, but cover the important details) makes for a great post!

I enjoyed the helpful comments left on my other post, if you're interested in reading them!

How do you find your inspiration for your blog posts? What tips do you have that work great for you?